Back in the day, every mining town of Colorado built a landmark hotel. That’s how they flaunted their riches and lodged the visiting bankers and financiers looking to invest in the mines. Fortunately many of those hotels remain today and Durango’s “grande dame,” the Strater Hotel, ranks as one of the most elegant. Go here for a few night’s stay, a drink, a sing-a-long of some old time-y tunes in their Diamond Belle Saloon or just a saunter around the hotel’s richly furnished Victorian interior. Stepping into the Strater is like walking onto the movie set of an old western that’s being filmed in a mining town. The same can be said for the Grand Imperial Hotel, another historic Durango property. Yep, not much has changed since back in the day.
Out on the street, you’ll find a ton of restaurants and shops that embody this Old West spirit along with lots of other establishments representative of the eclectic mix you find in Durango. College students, old ranchers, ski bums and lots of young professionals have shaped the town’s character of today. It comes as no surprise that here you can find a cornucopia of good health food–both in stores, farmer’s markets and restaurants–authentic Western clothing and accessories, Native American arts, outdoor gear and clothing, high-end art and lots more. If you’re a shopper, save plenty of time for mogging around this scenic Western town. And if you love to read, be sure to go to Maria’s Bookshop, one of the best independent booksellers in the West.
Most of the restaurants and bars are mixed in with the shops on Main Avenue, so go ahead and size them up as you saunter from one end of town to the other. Some, such as Seasons Rotisserie & Grill, even have little courtyards or patios to take in the nice, dry, Rocky Mountain air. If you enjoy the café ambiance of a French restaurant, you’ll love Jean Pierre Bakery & Winebar where you may also pick up bread and pastries to go.
And since this is Colorado and a college town, you’re free to shop for cannabis in all its blissful forms at a variety of purveyors. Even if you’re not looking to buy, you must check out at least one pot shop. It’s a cultural experience that everyone from neophytes to connoisseurs seems to enjoy.
In Colorado, Rocky Mountain High is not just about elevation. And shopping, touring, dining and recreating here are often done with an expanded view.
One last tip: If you’re not able to take a train ride when in Durango, you can visit the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Museum. Even if you’re doing the train, be sure to allow time to check out the roundhouse and the many interesting railcars that make up this extraordinary showcase of railroad history.